Stocks Continue Upward Climb in Tuesday Trading

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - All three major markets followed a strong holiday session on Monday with further gains to 2003 peaks on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq Composite index, which hit a 16-month high on Monday, climbed 9.67 points to reach 1,943.20, its highest close since January of 2002. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 48.60 points to 9,812.98, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index increased 4.13 points to 1,049.48, both hitting their own 16-month peaks.

After making solid gains in light trading during yesterday's Columbus Day session, investors were greeted Tuesday with news that Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Co., Inc., and Johnson & Johnson had either met or exceeded analysts' expectations of third-quarter profits.

Nevertheless, traders remained cautious in early trading, with some fearing that recent gains might have surpassed other economic indicators.

"We had a great day yesterday over a bunch of earnings, and a lot of people who were on vacation probably came back today and said, 'This is a little crazy,"' Douglas Nardi, director at Scudder Private Investment Counsel, told Fox News. "We're still early into the earnings season."

But as the day went on with no significantly bad news, the bulls re-asserted themselves and sent Wall Street into positive territory for the second day this week.

Johnson & Johnson was one of the most active gainers Tuesday after the drug and medical product company posted a 20 percent improvement in quarterly profits, though Merrill Lynch stock slipped even though its third-quarter earnings rose 50 percent, beating expectations.

Trading in overseas markets was mixed. Japan's Nikkei stock average gained 1.67 percent after being closed on Monday, but in Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 dropped 0.65 percent, France's CAC-40 slid 0.46 percent, and Germany's DAX index was down 0.16 percent.

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